June 29, 2017

VLS Hosts Pro Bono Service Awards

Judge Suzanne Covington with Priscilla G. Cortez, Executive Director, VLS

Attorneys and Law Firms Honored at the Judge Suzanne Covington Pro Bono Service Awards Reception

Through the dedication and support of countless Central Texas lawyers and law firms, Volunteer Legal Services (VLS) is closing the justice gap of unmet civil legal needs for low-income individuals and families.  A mother who suffered horrific abuse at the hands of her husband, a man with  disabilities about to be evicted from his rent-subsidized apartment, low-income elderly residents who needed help getting their affairs in order – these and thousands of others find help through the generosity of VLS  volunteers and supporters.

On June 22, these legal heroes were honored at the Judge Suzanne Covington Pro Bono Service Awards Reception hosted by VLS and Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody.  Over eighty law firms and seventy attorneys were recognized for so generously investing their time, legal expertise, and resources to advance the mission of VLS – to ensure that poverty is not a barrier to justice.

(L-R) Daniel Riegel, Partner, Richards Rodriguez & Skeith; Chase Hamilton, Associate, Richards Rodriguez & Skeith; Corinne Smith, Partner, Strasburger & Price; and Marshall P. Meringola, Associate, Strasburger & Price.

Also recognized during the awards reception were two individuals and one law firm for going above and beyond what is required to help those  in need access the civil justice system.  Liliana Leon Fores, Law Office of Liliana Leon Fores PLLC, received the Susan P. Burton Award for outstanding pro bono legal service by a lawyer licensed for five years or less.  Immediately upon becoming licensed in 2015, Liliana began serving as a VLS volunteer.  In 2016, Liliana handled eleven pro bono cases, assisting Spanish-speaking clients with critical estate planning and family law matters.

Phil Friday was presented with the J. Chrys Dougherty Award for his long-standing work on behalf of VLS clients.  For years, Phil has handled difficult VLS cases, served as a mentor to other attorney volunteers, and provided assistance at VLS legal clinics.  His commitment has been invaluable to the success of VLS.

(L-R) Paul Skeith, Managing Partner, Richards Rodriguez & Skeith; Priscilla G. Cortez, Executive Director, VLS; and Tonia Lucio, Partner, Richards Rodriguez & Skeith.

The law firm of Richards Rodriguez & Skeith received the Joseph H. Hart Award, for a firm that provided exemplary support to VLS.  This firm and their lawyers give their time, talent and treasure to those most in need of legal assistance, and treat these clients with the same respect and dignity they grant their fee-generating clients. That generosity of professionalism is coupled with the firm’s contributions of time and resources.  Over the past three years, the law firm and its sixteen attorneys have generously contributed to VLS and successfully handled 21 pro bono cases.

Central Texas is fortunate to have the generosity of legal talent and financial support from so many members of the legal community.  The VLS Board and staff are proud to recognize these outstanding lawyers and law firms and their many contributions to our community.

If you are interested in volunteering with VLS, please visit our website:  www.vlsoct.org.

(L-R) Susan Kidwell, VLS board president, Catherine Mauzy,VLS board member, and Priscilla G. Cortez, VLS executive director.